While shooting “Eating America” this summer, actor and foodie Anthony Anderson landed in a familiar place, New Orleans.
The Los Angeles native is host for the eight-episode Food Network series, which travels to a different food festival each episode to sample the region’s specialties and meet the people behind them.
Anderson lived in New Orleans while filming the one-season, 2007-2008 post-Katrina-set Fox drama “K-Ville.” He starred as Marlin Boulet, one of the policemen patrolling the city’s streets during that tumultuous time. It was, however, Anderson’s first time to take in the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience in May.
“And it will not be my last,” Anderson said from Los Angeles last week. “It was a four-day event. I got to walk around the French Quarter, the streets were shut down, the vendors were out there cooking. There was great music, there was great food, great energy, great people. And then to follow it up, the very next day, in the (Ernest N. Morial) Convention Center, with 10 of the top chefs from around the area competing against one another, was just wonderful.”
Anderson was referring to the Louisiana Seafood Cook-off, taking place during W&FE’s Grand Tasting event.
“What they had created, it was just delicious, and I look forward to going back.”
Aaron Burgau, chef-owner of Patois, was crowned “King of Louisiana Seafood” at the cook-off, wowing the judges with his riff on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival perennial favorite Crawfish Monica .
“As part of ‘Eating America,’ I got to be the sous chef to these chefs, and prepare these meals with them,” Anderson said.
The trick, for Anderson, was not consuming too much of the finished products.
“The hard part is, over the last five years, I’ve lost 45 pounds. The Food Network was trying to put it all back on me this summer with ‘Eating America,’” Anderson joked.
Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 14 years ago, Anderson said he really got serious about trimming down five years ago.
“I just changed my lifestyle. I started eating healthier, stopped the late-night eating, you know, just started making healthier choices and I got in the gym,” he said.
Temptation at the Rockwood Ice Cream Festival in Wilmington, Delaware, came in the form of the “cardiac arrest sundae.”
“It was made with three types of ice cream, a candied apple, homemade caramel popcorn, bacon, whipped cream, marshmallow sauce and also an Oreo cookie cream sauce,” Anderson recalled. “So that was the weirdest thing I had to eat during a festival. And if you were to ask me, and to just look at these ingredients, I would say there’s no way that sundae would have won, and the judges ate this sundae and it took first place, and three of the four judges said when they bit into this sundae they said it took them back to their childhood, and that’s what took this particular sundae over the top so it would win. I must admit it was pretty tasty.”
Other stops included the Magnolia Blossom Festival & World Championship Steak Cook-Off in Magnolia, Arkansas; Ribfest Chicago; and the Long Grove (Illinois) Strawberry Festival.
Anderson has previously competed on Food Network’s “Chopped,” and was a judge and competitor on the network’s “Iron Chef America.” As an actor, he’s best known for his award-winning stint as detective Kevin Bernard on the NBC drama “Law & Order.” Viewers can see him this fall starring in the new ABC comedy, “Black-ish,” centering on a middle-class African-American famly.
“We start shooting on Monday,” Anderson said. “Yesterday, we had our table read that went great. Paul Lee, the president of Disney and ABC, had no notes for us and told us to go on and make a great show, so we couldn’t be happier right now.
“It’s great, especially that I was a part of conceiving and creating and executive producing, so I have a little bit more input now, so that feels good.”